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Jewish Journal

Germany celebrates Hitler’s rise—sort of

by Brad A. Greenberg

January 29, 2008 | 4:40 pm

Wednesday is the 75th anniversary of the day Hitler and the Nazi Party took power in Germany, and the occasion has prompted a new round of soul-searching.

“Where in the world has one ever seen a nation that erects memorials to immortalize its own shame?” asked Avi Primor, the former Israeli ambassador to Germany, at an event in Erfurt on Friday commemorating the Holocaust and the liberation of Auschwitz. “Only the Germans had the bravery and the humility.”

It is not just in edifices and exhibits that the effort to come to terms with this history marches on. The Federal Crime Office last year began investigating itself, trying to shine a light on the Nazi past of its founders after the end of the war. And this month Germany’s federal prosecutor overturned the guilty verdict of Marinus van der Lubbe, the Communist Dutchman executed on charges of setting the Reichstag fire; that event’s 75th anniversary is Feb. 27.

The experience of Nazism is alive in contemporary public debates over subjects as varied as German troops in Afghanistan, the nation’s low birthrate and the country’s dealings with foreigners.
Why Germany seems unendingly obsessed with Nazism is itself a subject of perpetual debate here, ranging from the nation’s philosophical temperament, to simple awe at the unprecedented combination of organization and brutality, to the sense that the crime was so great that it spread like a blot over the entire culture.

Whatever the reasons, as the events become more remote, less personal, this society is forced to confront the question of how it should enshrine its crimes and transgressions over the longer term.

Click here for the rest of this article from The New York Times. Others seem to be coming to poorer terms with Hitler’s legacy.

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